Sep 28, 2012 3:00pm PDT
culture from top to bottom, from the economy and technology up to the religion. the problem is that what we find in the field as data is primarily information on technology, on the material culture. you find buildings and pot shards and stone tools and things like that. so how do you move from that data to the organization of society and then to their religion and these other aspects of culture ? and there is only one way to do that. and that is to go to living populations, living cultures that are being studied by ethnographers, by our colleagues in cultural anthropology, and use them as analogies. keach: in the 1970s, anthropologists documented a society called the kawelka in the highlan of papua new guinea. the kawelka society numbers about 1,000. they could be either a tribe or a chiefdom, because the population limits defining social types are not fixed. here in the highlands, people raise sweet potatoes and pigs. like the first residents of copan, no one here has acquired great individual wealth. but men like ongka can acquire great prestige and influence. such leaders are called "
Oct 5, 2012 3:00pm PDT
of other people. keach: their religion sanctioned conquest, but that was not enough for the aztecs. they also rewrote their history to clothe themselves in the mantle of divine authority. sanders: the uncle of the aztec ruler came to him and said, "i think we should burn the books. "they only deceive the common people. "and let's write true history --" meaning official history, of course. and this history tells the story of a chosen people -- it's very much like the story of the israelites -- a chosen people who start up in northern mexico at a place called aztlan -- that's where they got their name "azteca" from -- start in aztlan under the leadership of a leader who later on becomes their god, huitzilopochtli, but at that time he was a human being. he tries to tell them to keep going, keep going. they haven't reached the promised land yet. finally, they arrive in the valley of mexico, and on an island in the lake they see an eagle land with a serpent in its claws on a nopal cactus. and huitzilopochtli says that's the place that you are destined to form your great kingdom, and you